Liverpool F.C.: The annual meeting of 1908 (Liverpool Echo)

June 10, 1908
The Liverpool Football Club meeting passed off as anticipated – quietly and good humorlessly. As soon as I reached Carlton Hall a well-known local referee chided me for “pasting it on in regard to the bright outlook of the Reds.” He didn’t think the financial prospect was quite as rosy as I had suggested. The Liverpool directors must by now have come near the concluding part of their scheme for improving the ground and its accommodation, and, remembering the short time the club has been a limited company, I think that they have justified themselves.

Besides, it was an admitted fact that when Liverpool’s best home gates were due the weather was really of the worst possible description. All the stands will now be ready for use on September 1, whereas last season there was a big slice off the newest stand. All these things have helped to keep down the receipts account, and I anticipate the club will take very much more next season by gates.

Mr. Edwin Berry was in the chair, and as Councillor Austin Harford, who, at the conclusion of the meeting, proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Berry, said, “they were delighted and proud to have such a gentleman at their head.” Mr. Thomas Howarth seconded this proposal, which was carried with applause.

Mr. Howarth referred incidentally to the anticipated London rulers, and expressed the conviction that until there was an incentive to the player to win, they would never get back the old-time brilliance and spirit. To which I add, “Of course not, but a man should play with his whole heart if he is paid the living wage of four pun’ a week.”

However, to the meeting. There were the following directors on the platform: –
Messrs. John McKenna, John Asbury Jun., William Coward Briggs, John Fare, William Robert Williams, Albert Worgan, John James Ramsay and Dr Frederick Francis German.

The Chairman, in moving the adoption of the report and statement of accounts, thought they must all agree that the work of the club during the last season had been most satisfactory. This was especially gratifying when they took into consideration some of the deterrent circumstances with which they had had to contend (hear, hear).

Several things worked against them during the season, one of which was that the new stand was not ready for use in November as was expected.

They had also been somewhat unfortunate as regarded the weather on several important Saturdays – particularly in the fixture with Manchester United, which was postponed owing to fog. He thought he was right in estimating that they lost between £600 or £700 through that match not being played.

Then there was the fact that the ground was during the season in a state of transition, which affected them considerably from a financial point of view. Notwithstanding these adverse features, he was of opinion that the gross profit of £1,693 which had been made was most satisfactory (hear, hear).

He was pleased to say that the ground was now practically completed, and scarcely anything remained to be done, excepting a little pointing, &c. The ground was now capable of accommodating 50,000 people, every one of whom would be able to obtain a good view of the games (hear, hear).

Their ground was now second to none in the country, and was superior to a great many. In that respect it represented a great income-earning capacity, and he hoped next season they would see the crowds which the ground was capable of accommodating.

With regard to the players for next season, they had not engaged any new men at fabulous fees, nor did the think that was necessary. But they had engaged most of their old players (hear, hear). Some, of course, the directors thought they must part with, but they had secured others who, it was hoped, would do the club good.

The directors felt confident that as they now had a ground second to none, they would also have a team second to none next season (hear, hear).

They were fully alive to the necessity of looking out for new blood, and had not been lacking in their endeavour to secure the best. What they had got they were perfectly satisfied with, and they would secure other players as their funds permitted. The directors looked confidently forward to a successful season both from a sporting and a financial point of view (applause). Mr. McKenna seconded the proposal, and supplemented what Mr. Berry had said concerning the abandonment of the Manchester United match by stating that the second date fixed for this important match was as bad as the first.

The report was carried.

Then came a flow of questions, some sensible, mostly irrelevant, and some “hardy annuals.”
One gentleman could not see eye to eye with the idea of the chairman that Mr. Tom Watson was secretary of the Football club; and that Mr. Simon Jude was secretary of the company as well as auditor. It was a minor point. Another contended that the directors were to blame in connection with the postponement of the Manchester United match.

“There were thousands outside, and you could see from goal to goal. Most of the disappointed ones went to Goodison and saw a spanking game,” he declared amid merriment. Mr. Berry in reply, pointed out that the referee was the sole judge, and that he was to blame if anyone. At any rate it would have appeared very much like false pretence to have opened the gates and taken the money when there was a doubt about the match being started.

Other inquirers wanted to know why several transfer fees had been omitted. They were told that most of these transfer had been affected after April 30 and would appear in next season’s accounts. It was mentioned, in reply to a query, that the retiring directors were individually responsible to the bank for an overdraft.

Mr. Tom Watson, who was warmly cheered, just chatted to the shareholders in his inimitable manner. He said his men didn’t play brilliant football regularly; they were not brilliant or high class but they were – well, well, er – we, we had, as you will agree, a good season last season.

The shareholders roared at Tom’s quaint way of putting an awkward case. However, they recognise his worth, and were pleased with his economical way of building up a team. Mr. Watson said they must all recognise that the club was not in the position of paying money running into four figures for the purchase of players.

At the same time, they had kept their eyes open, and recognised to the fullest extent that it was essential to have a good team (hear, hear). They were sorry to have to part with Ned Doig. The chairman, by the way, refused to be drawn into a tangle by the question why James Gorman was not retained, but he said the reason William Macphersn was not retained was because Macpherson desired to return to Scotland. They got “Mac” cheap – £50.

Mr. Watson said the players engaged for next season were as follow:
Goalkeepers: Sam Hardy and Donald Sloan.
Full backs: Alf West, Percy Saul, Tom Rogers, John Hughes and Billy Dunlop.
Half-backs: Maurice Parry, Alex Raisbeck, James Bradley, Tom Chorlton, Jim Harrop, James Hughes, Ernest Peake and George Latham.
Forwards: Joe Hewitt, Ronald Orr, Fred Smith, Walter Smith, Bertram Goode, Harold Uren, Sam Bowyer, Mike Griffin, and John Cox.

The following players have been transferred:
Charles Hewitt to West Bromwich Albion; James Gorman to Leicester Fosse and Harry Fitzpatrick and Harry Griffiths to Chesterfield.

The Chairman, alluding to the resolution of the directors to issue a further 2,198 shares, so as to being up to the share share capital of the company to £30,000, said that the response had been most gratifying. Already over £1,200 had been subscribed (applause).

It was decided that the list should be closed next Wednesday.

The retiring directors – Messrs. Edwin Berry, John McKenna and John Asbury – were re-elected, the voting being almost unanimously in their favour, even though there were three other nominations.

Mr. Asbury moved, and Mr. Briggs seconded, the payment of a dividend at the rate of 5 per cent., which was unanimously adopted.

Alex Raisbeck, Billy Dunlop, and George Fleming, of the players, were present.
(Source: Liverpool Echo: June 11, 1908)

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